by Joseph Klein
How to make the illegal immigration surge even worse.
The Biden administration is increasingly desperate in the face of the migration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border that Biden’s progressive open-door policies have created. Illegal unaccompanied minors are flooding into this country, overwhelming available government resources to shelter and care for them. The Biden administration is already reportedly spending more than $60 million a week to house these minors now in federally run shelters. Many more are illegally crossing the border every day and are being added to the thousands allowed to remain in the United States.
What “creative” solutions has the Biden administration come up with to deal with this surge, aside from scrambling to increase shelter capacity beyond the hovels the kids are already being crammed into? One idea is to offer extended paid leave to government employees, who are likely to have no relevant training and experience, to step in and take care of some minors. Another idea is to offer cash payments to Central Americans to keep them home rather than emigrate to the United States. Offering what amounts to bribes for Central Americans to stay put instead of attempting to reach the United States is likely to backfire.
The New York Times reported last week that employees in federal government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and NASA had received e-mails asking them whether they would be willing to take four-month paid leaves from their jobs “to help care for migrant children in government-run shelters.” Nearly three thousand federal employees answered the call as of April 9th, leaving behind the duties they were actually hired to perform.
As for the cash transfers to Central Americans to keep them at home, Roberta Jacobson, the outgoing White House southern border coordinator, told Reuters recently that such payments were an option under review by the Biden administration to address “the economic reasons people may be migrating.” It has apparently not occurred to the Biden administration “geniuses” that desperate people will do desperate things. The smugglers will be the winners as many of the cash payment recipients use their windfalls to pay for being smuggled into the United States. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed what many Americans must be thinking when he said, “It’s insulting to the millions of Americans who are out of work or facing despair in our country.”
The cash payments would be on top of the $4 billion in development aid that Biden wants to send to Central American countries over four years. This bounty is intended to help alleviate the so-called “root causes” that lead so many Central Americans to take the dangerous trek north to the United States. Based on their records, it is likely that the corrupt leaders in the Northern Triangle of Central America will line their own pockets with a good chunk of that money.
Vice President Kamala Harris is Biden’s choice to work on stemming the flow of migrants from Central America. Presumably, Harris, who lacks any experience in diplomacy or immigration issues, will oversee handing out American taxpayers’ money like candy in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to deal with the “root causes” of the migrant surge. It has been three weeks since Biden appointed Harris to take on these responsibilities. To date, she has neither visited the U.S.-Mexico border nor gone down to the Central American countries to study for herself the situation on the ground and speak with government, business, and community leaders.
On April 14th, Harris delivered some remarks at what was billed as a Virtual Roundtable of Experts on the Northern Triangle. She pointed out the obvious – that the Central Americans leaving their homes are “fleeing some harm, or to remain home is to remain in a position where there is no opportunity to meet essential needs that include feeding their children, keeping a roof over their head, and engaging in productive work.”
Then, as an example of how superficial Harris is in dealing with the “root cause” problem she was assigned to help resolve, Harris recommended focusing on “an important four-letter word, which I hope always inspires us to do the work we do, and that word is ‘hope.’ And in this regard, in — in our focus on the Northern Triangle, looking at the fact that we have an opportunity — as the United States of America, with the resources and with the will that we have — to provide the people of the Northern Triangle with some hope that if they stay at home, help is on the way and they can have some hope that the opportunities and the needs that they have will be met in some way.”
Harris spent time during the roundtable discussing the need to deal with the impact of climate change in the Northern Triangle. She briefly acknowledged that there was a corruption problem in the Central American countries. However, Harris offered no suggestions on how this problem should be addressed as a condition for the U.S. spending more money on economic development in those countries.
Harris did suggest internationalizing the effort to encourage economic development. “That includes reaching out to our allies, through the U.N.,” she said. The United Nations is the wrong organization to rely upon, given its own corruption problems and its encouragement of more open borders.
When Harris was asked if she was planning a visit to the southern border, she replied that her job was to “lead the issue of dealing with root causes in the Northern Triangle.” Harris mentioned that a trip to Guatemala was in the works, with a stop in Mexico, without offering any details or timetable.
Harris has spoken by phone with Guatemalan President Alejando Giammattei and with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “They agreed to continue to work together to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – including poverty, violence, and lack of economic opportunity,” the White House said about Harris’s call with Obrador. “They also discussed deepening the U.S.-Mexico relationship to target human smuggling and human trafficking.”
Former President Donald Trump had already contained the human smugglers during his term in office by putting in place an array of disincentives to discourage would-be migrants from making the journey north. The “root cause” of today’s crisis is Harris’s boss, whom Obrador has called the “migrant president.” Biden removed many of the Trump administration’s disincentives and suspended the construction of the border wall.
Harris hails from the sanctuary state of California. She has previously expressed her own opposition to deportations of illegal immigrants. Harris should discuss mass immigration incentives and disincentives with Obrador the next time she speaks with him. To educate herself, Harris may want to ask Obrador to elaborate on the observations he expressed last month: "Expectations were created that with the Government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so."
Meanwhile, New York State has found its own way to subsidize illegal aliens while raising taxes to help pay for it. The far left progressive New York State Legislature has established, with beleaguered Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signoff, a $2.1 billion “Excluded Workers Fund” under which nearly 300,000 illegal aliens living in New York will be eligible to receive money they are not otherwise entitled to under federal programs.
An illegal alien who qualifies “will be able to receive up to $15,600 (minus $780 for taxes),” according to an article in The City. Even those who cannot fulfill all the criteria could get $3,200 (minus $160 removed for taxes). To put this in some perspective, the amount of money allotted in this year’s New York State budget to the Excluded Workers Fund is double what is included in relief for small businesses that are suffering badly as a result of the coronavirus and Cuomo’s lockdown orders. In short, New York is rewarding those in New York State illegally with windfalls they don’t deserve at legal residents’ expense.
The New York Times described the Excluded Workers Fund as “by far the biggest of its kind in the country and a sign of the state’s shift toward policies championed by progressive Democrats.” It makes even the sanctuary state of California look stingy by comparison with its $500 one-time cash benefit per adult up to a cap of $1,000 per household. New York has also surpassed California as the state imposing the highest overall tax burden in the United States.
Biden has caved to his progressive base in opening the door wide to illegal immigrants and is now trying to clean up his mess with ideas that will only make matters worse. Far left progressives in charge at the federal and state level are encouraging mass migration to this country on the way to achieving their utopian vision of “No borders. No nations.” In the process, they are destroying piece by piece the rule of law that undergirds America’s constitutional republic.